“But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having become set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.”
Our little boy, Cullen, is almost three. Which means he’s two–and I’ve discovered that the “terrible twos” are no joke. Cullen’s a good kid, all in all, but sometimes he elevates irrationality to an art form. Case in point, while getting dressed for daycare this morning, he decided he wanted to wear his pants backward because they have a truck on the back pocket. (Note to manufacturer: don’t put the cool stuff on the back of toddler clothes.) Naturally, his parents, not wanting to seem neglectful or idiotic to daycare staff, put his pants on correctly.
One word: Meltdown. When he finally calmed down, and I explained that we would be wearing the pants the way they were intended, he turned away, grunted, and punched the air with his hand. That’s his way of saying, “Whatever. But I don’t have to like it.” (It’s a big no-no, and warrants an automatic time-out, but that’s another story.)
Cullen gave hand motions to grudging obedience. The apostle Paul talks in Romans about a different kind of obedience. Though Paul uses the term slave, which is not a positive image for us 21st-century Christians, what he means is serving a master. We present ourselves to some master, whether it’s sin or God, and that’s who our master is.
Paul says we can present ourselves to God (like the Roman Christians), put our heart on a platter for him, and make our obedience a gift. We can guess, though, that it’s possible to give God something less–call it lip service. It’s obedience that goes no deeper than our skin. And Paul says that’s not the kind of obedience that leads to real freedom.